Sally Roberts
Josh Arias, owner of Beautiful Bearded Man in The Basement at 50 South Virginia Street, finishes cutting Lyle Smith's hair on Tuesday. The barber shop was the first shop to open in The Basement marketplace in the historic Post Office building.
Sally Roberts |

Between Christmas and New Year’s, The Basement at Fifty South Virginia Street sat quiet and nearly deserted.

That’s about to change.

Many of the nearly dozen businesses will open this first week of January and welcome customers to a unique shopping environment in the basement of the historic former United States Post Office and Federal Building.

“It’s a good eclectic mix of businesses,” said developer Bernie Carter. “They’re mom and pop businesses.”

Several shops already enjoyed soft openings. Others have been open for a few months.

Beautiful Bearded Man barbershop, which opened in June, was the first to open.

“Since the post office closed, we’re the first business license to be issued for the old building,” said barbershop owner Josh Arias, as he finished cutting the hair of Lyle Smith, a Reno resident and Air National Guardsman getting ready for deployment.

Arias and his staff have a growing clientele of regulars who appreciate the old-fashioned feel of the establishment.

“(I was attracted to the space) because of the size of the basement itself,” Arias said, “and the direction they were going with it; more of a marketplace versus a mall. It has a different vibe.”

The Basement is only one part of the vision Carter has for the structure in the heart of Reno’s stately historic buildings. The post office, designed by Nevada architect Frederic J. DeLongchamps in an Art Deco Moderne style, opened in 1934,

“It’s one of the cool buildings (in Reno) that they’ve actually done something with,” Arias said.

Carter said negotiations are under way to lease 12,000 square feet on the ground floor to a national home furnishing and decor store that’s new to the area. He expects to be ready to announce the name of the company sometime in mid-January, once the lease is signed.

The unique architectural details on the ground level includes terrazzo floors with black marble trim, terra cotta, and cast aluminum doors and ornamentation. Above, restored skylights let in an abundance of natural light.

The second and third floors have been designed as office space. A few companies have made inquires, but Carter and his staff haven’t focused on leasing that space as yet do to the close proximity of the construction work on the Virginia Street Bridge.

The noise from cranes and jackhammers would make any office work difficult, he said.

The construction work has also blocked a large portion of the parking area, which Carter said, they would regain access to on Jan. 1.

One company that already has office space, although located downstairs next to The Basement, is Sustainable Energy Solutions engineering, which helped update the building while retaining its historic features.

Businesses in The Basement ready to open, or preparing to open in the next couple months include: Sugar Love Chocolates, Global Coffee, Rawbry cold-pressed juice, Chomp (salads), Kalifornia Jean Bar, Tahoe Nevada Love, Apothecary, Botanicals Flower Bar, Pantry Products and The New Deal.

A lecture hall will be ready for speakers and music in a couple months..

A grand opening celebration for The Basement is planned for Feb. 20.


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